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Tuesday, 6 March, 2001, 23:48 GMT
Tories attack 'traffic stealth tax'
Traffic congestion
The government wants to tackle town centre congestion
Government plans to introduce congestion charging and a workplace parking tax have come under fresh fire from the Conservatives.

The proposals will mean motorists face being "taxed if you move, taxed if you don't", according to shadow transport minister Bernard Jenkin.


Whether motorists are driving into city centres or parking at work, there will be no hiding place from this government's stealth tax plan

Bernard Jenkin
But Labour has accused the Tories of a U-turn, saying they supported congestion charging during the 2000 London mayoral elections.

The government aims to raise 1bn by 2010 through allowing local authorities to charge drivers on town and city roads.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has pledged to plough the money back into local transport funding - but the Tories claim the government could cut grants at the same time.

The congestion charges will add to the burden of those who have no option but to use their cars, Mr Jenkin said.

And they will add to the 2bn the British Chamber of Commerce estimates firms already pay through the parking place tax, he said.


The Conservatives have no vision for British transport and no coherent plan

Keith Hill
Transport Minister
"Labour's double whammy is that whilst the motorist is paying more and more in taxation, traffic jams are getting worse," Mr Jenkin said.

"Whether motorists are driving into city centres or parking at work, there will be no hiding place from this government's stealth tax plan.

"Congestion and workplace parking will be ineffective, unfair and unworkable as the plans do not take into account those who have no choice but to use their car - surely Two Jags Prescott can understand this?"

U-turn accusation

But Transport Minister Keith Hill accused the Tories of a "cynical and nonsensical" U-turn.

He said under Tory proposals any new roads would be toll roads built and run by private companies.

"The Conservatives have no vision for British transport and no coherent plan," he said.

"Labour is investing in a strategic, integrated road network, and allowing local communities to bring forward congestion charges to raise money for roads and other transport improvements."

Mr Jenkin dismissed the minister's attack as "rubbish", saying it was "utterly ridiculous" for Labour to pose as the motorists' friend.

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